A Columbia County Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of mobile home owners in the Christmas Mountain Campground. The ruling puts back in place, at least temporally, the permit to operate the campground.
The permit was revoked in July 2015 by the Sauk County Board of Adjustments.
The permit was revoked because the Sauk County Board of Adjustments claimed approximately one dozen of the 92 members of the Christmas Mountain Campground Association were living in their homes more than the eight months out of a year that are allowed. The agency also claimed that a number of homeowners were in violation for putting additions on their structures.
“We’ve had two building permits. We’ve added on to our place here twice and had permits done by what was legal and they came back and say, 'Well, you shouldn’t have done this,'” said Larry Richardson, a homeowner who uses the mobile home as a vacation property.
Several of the homeowners said they put additions onto their homes only after paying for and getting permits to do so.
In response to the county revoking the campground permit, 46 homeowners retained Fox Point attorney Alan Deutch for legal representation.
Deutch filed a lawsuit claiming the county had violated the campground members' right to due process. That claim was based on the county’s failure to notify the campground members of meeting notices, instead sending the notices to the association as a whole.
On that portion of the lawsuit, Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Todd Hepler ruled in favor of the homeowners.
Two other portions of the homeowners' lawsuit have not been ruled on yet. Those two include an element of inverse condemnation and a laches defense. A laches defense is the equitable equivalent of statutes of limitations. The lawsuit argues that the county’s failure to take action against the homeowners for a considerable period of time is the basis of a laches defense.
The next legal step in the case will be a status conference to be held at a future date.
Deutch said the judge’s ruling is important because it means the timeshare owners have rights in determining what happens to the property they own.
News 3 contacted the Sauk County Corporation counsel for comment. They have not responded as of Monday afternoon.